Sunday, November 28, 2010

Brothas From Anotha Motha

If you know me, or have been to Golden Nugget with me on more than one occasion, then you know that I will likely order the Guadalajara Skillet (first photo). It is a skillet of potatoes, onions, peppers, chorizo, cheese, tortilla chips, topped with a fried egg, accompanied by a side of salsa and a hot pepper, and it also comes with corn tortillas.

Today, I encountered the Guadalajara Skillet in burger form, or its "brotha from anotha motha." At Maddi's request, we went to Kuma's Corner for lunch (best time to go? Sunday, 11:45AM), and I ordered the "Megadeth," named after the band (second photo). It is a burger topped with a chorizo and potato hash, tortilla chips, and a cayenne avocado mayo-ish sauce, served on a pretzel roll. I had the handmade chips, as you can see. I imagine the Guadalajara Skillet and the Megadeth writing letters to each other, reunited without ever knowing they were separated.
Dearest Megadeth,
I hope you are well. At Golden Nugget, they continue to ring the annoying bell every hour so the employees know to wash their hands. I don't know if they actually do. The funny-looking Asian girl continues to order me, regardless of the location. She always takes me home, and I feel special. Maybe one day you will meet her.
Guadalajara Skillet

Hey Guaddy, Yeah that little lady came, ordered me and took my creamy cayenne avocado top off. She just SHUT IT DOWN. I guess she likes chorizos and potatoes a lot. Over here the music is still loud and I saw a waitress rub her nose a lot with her hand, so I was like Oh Shit It's Dirty Up In Here but then I saw another lady with blonde and black hair find a stray strand of hair and she properly took it to a garbage can, or at least out of my sight so I was like Oh Snap Maybe It's Alright Here. Sometimes I sense that big old devil dog but it stays outside and doesn't eat me. My worst nightmare is to be devoured by the Beastmaster. Anyway this crazy little Asian girl had me BURNT! The waitress was like Watch Out Now but your girl was like Oh You Don't Know Me Honey. Okay I'm sick of writing to you because I'm a burger and I shouldn't be and don't want to do this,  I'm gonna go smell good now, so bye. MEGADETH
We saw Senshi, an Akita, behind Kuma's Corner. I know Kuma was an Akita, and I wonder if Senshi is to Kuma like what Oji is to Yuki for my family. He looks like Oji's "brotha from anotha motha" so I felt compelled to pet him, but I knew better than to stick my hand in between the bars. Not that I ever knew a mean Akita, but you never know. That combo of black head and golden eyes is amazing.

Now I will continue to imagine what life will be like on Wednesday and on. Will the Shiba puppy hate me for the first couple of days? "How dare you take me away from my littermates and mother! Who are you and why do you smell bad?! SHIBA SCREAM!!!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chicago Sun-Times Show

This past weekend, we attended another Chicago Sun-Times card show. Some prominent active guests were: Ubaldo Jiminez, Clayton Kershaw, Curtis Granderson, Jayson Heyward, Armando Galarraga, Edwin Jackson, Evan Longoria, a canceled Aroldis Chapman, a canceled Matt Garza. Some former star guests were: Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, William "The Fridge" Perry of the '85 Bears (he wore a cowboy hat and walked with a cane). It was a pretty good lineup, but a number of the young players don't merit the high prices for autos. Curtis Granderson--UIC alum, Chicago native--comes back from New York, and charges $99 for an auto?! I know it's out of his hands (he's a gentleman, I trust it's out of his hands), but damn, FORGETCHU (à la Gwyneth Paltrow or Cee-Lo, however you want to hear it in your head)! At least at the card show. Jayson Heyward had higher price tags than Galarraga and Jackson. FORGETCHU! Ubaldo was charging $49, Longoria $89, and Kershaw $59. FORGETCHU!

Armando Galarraga is our "Honeymoon Pitcher," so I wanted his auto. Mordecai wanted to be reunited with Darryl Strawberry and pick up where they left off at a T.G.I.Friday's in Queens 20 years ago, so we had to check out his booth. I told Galarraga that we went to a Tigers game for our honeymoon, and that he won, so he was our "Honeymoon Pitcher." He gave a good laugh in response. I forgot to tell him that Justin Verlander pitched badly the next rainy day, and to thank him for blessing our marriage. Mordecai recounted his T.G.I.Friday's story to Mr. Strawberry, who laughed at the "You were trying to eat your steak, but I really appreciated you taking the time to sign my card" line. I really enjoy meeting beloved players, but it's always so nerve-wracking to actually meet them. What do you say? "Hey, you don't look as dorky as I thought you would. In fact, you're pretty good looking." (Galarraga.) "Hey, you seem confident." (Strawberry.)  What would you say to your favorite player? "Can you sign this? How about this? And this too. Can you sign my puppy? How about my arm? Would it be creepy if I got your signature on my arm tattooed? Did you know you're the first baseball player I cared about who's not Japanese? You're welcome. When will you forget me? Thanks!" (Miggy.) I guess it's just important that you say what you want to say to them, thank them, and treasure the memories.

Milwaukee, May

I never posted these but always meant to. Back in May, we went to Milwaukee for a Milwaukee vs. Mets game. In the last picture, we're waiting for the gates to open, so we could see the Mets' batting practice. Corey Hart went berserk at this game, and the Mets had a laughable starting pitching situation.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Philosophy in the Times

It's interesting to see philosophy outside of academia. Here, a portrait photographer, Steve Pyke, posts some black and white photos of important philosophers looking into the distance, caught in deep thought, disgruntled, and so on. They explain "why philosophy," and Pyke explains why he takes their pictures. I've never been a huge fan of reading through comments, but it was interesting to see people's reactions to the feature and essay. "Since when are 'philosophers' exclusively anglo-american?" (My follow-up question: when not Anglo-American, why Zizek?) Why aren't scientists and other theorists in there? "Lawyers and philosophers...are like half-brothers. Sometimes I wish I was a philosopher, but I love my flat screen TV. Whatever." I think a lot of these questions have to do with Pyke being based in New York and how he is interested in philosophers who are respected by other philosophers. But this doesn't explain the best question: "How about Philosopher trading cards?"

Of the portraits and explanations, I liked Kwame Anthony Appiah's and Tim Scanlon's best. Appiah looks inviting, and though he gives a standard explanation of "why philosophy," it's succinct, and the way he puts it is worth repeating. I like the look in Scanlon's eyes, and the compelling comment about becoming our own prisoners without philosophical distinctions. Of course, this has got me thinking about myself, so I'll be posting my own philosopher trading card here soon, complete with an explanation of "why philosophy." I'm sure all -3 of you are dying to know, so stay tuned.

And then Jade alerted me to this essay on hipsters, also from the NYTimes. It references Pierre Bourdieu's Distinction, which is not quite philosophy, but its premise is beef with Kantian aesthetics so I say it counts. Anyway, Bourdieu's whole research on class and taste is interesting, but ultimately, I don't think taste is determined by class. I mean, we all saw Vivian cry at the opera in "Pretty Woman," right guys? REMEMBER? I just saw that movie last night on USA (i.e., edited and laced with commercials not from 80's, which would be preferred) for the first time. I couldn't tell if the writing was terrible, especially for Vivian's parts, or if Julia Roberts is a terrible actress. I didn't mind looking at Richard Gere's character and his sometimes-Asian-looking eyes, and I loved George Kostanza's cameo as the lawyer, and the storyline is interesting enough to keep watching. But damn, I felt so gross after seeing it, and not just because Julia Roberts has wiry eyebrows, like the fur of an Airdale Terrier.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Which one of yous is coming home with us???
Are you the lucky star?
 Everyone guesses that you're the boy, which means you won't come home with us. And you've got soy sauce on your face, bro. 
All photos kindly sent to us by Glenchester Kennels.

YouTube has been a useful resource for researching puppies. You can read about a breed, and that's really great, but it's nice to be able to see the breed in action. Did you know Shibas elict a kind of scream?! Here's the best one (go to about ~1:40). Anyway, there's this one video of an 8 week old Shiba puppy who is being introduced to some human friends. I like the commentary provided by a man in the video:
"Oh man, I mean, seriously like...I dunno...I guess I've seen a few dogs that are pretty cute but this one seems to be...this one seems to be like top 5 percentile of the cutest dogs..."
THAT'S RIGHT, TOP 5 PERCENTILE. That means ELITE. I think that's a pretty accurate description of the Shiba puppy. What is it that makes it so cute? Its furriness, tininess, the foxiness, the pointed ears, the curly tail, the beady eyes? Next to a Lab or Husky puppy, would the Shiba automatically win in a Battle of Cuteness? How do you walk away with only one?

After Thanksgiving, Mordecai and I plan to drive to Ohio to Glenchester Kennels, where we will meet two of these puppies shown above, and pick one to come home with us. I suppose it's possible that we'll have three or four more puppies in the next litter, Danica's, to choose from, but I also suppose that the breeders would rather us take a 9 week old puppy than a 7 week old puppy. I mean, after we take our pick, who's going to want a geezer 9 week old Shiba puppy over a 7 week old one? Actually, Yuki was 12 weeks old when we got her. She was a talker ("Ooo ooo ooo" which meant, "Love me!" but sounded more like, "I'll kill you!"), and apparently that was not appealing to a lot of people. I thought it was her best attribute, and picked her over Pinto, a younger male, with black pinto bean prints on his white coat. I'm sure Pinto was a good guy, but that was the best decision ever in the History of Decisions.  

It seemed criminal not to share these pictures (house? painted walls? resodded backyard? new floor in the sunroom? PUPPY!). This may turn into a Shiba puppy blog, but whatever, YOU'RE WELCOME IN ADVANCE!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Damn French Horns

Last night Mordecai and I saw a Chicago Symphony Orchestra performance of some Mozart, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn. (I recommend taking advantage of their "student ticket" system.) I've been into classical music lately, but only to the extent that this all pertains to "Nodame Cantabile." (I saw the two movies, which left me with so many questions, but settled the main ones between Nodame, Chiaki, and music.) There were two reasons why I picked Thursday's concert: 1) Jonathan Biss, the pianist performing Beethoven's concerto, looks like a snooty Mordecai, and 2) I recognized the beginning of Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony from the Nodame soundtrack. 

We went to a pre-show lecture on Mozart's Symphony 23, Beethoven's Concert no.2, and Mendelssohn's Symphony 4. The woman-encyclopedia talked for 30 straight minutes about the three composers, what they were going through when they composed the pieces, and how they all related to one another. It was like a human Wikipedia article but somehow more trustworthy. What was most helpful for me was her explanation that the fourth movement of Beethoven's concerto had a rondo structure of parts: A, B, A, C, A, B, A. ("Music students say it as a word, 'abacaba.'") I had been listening to the concerto before the concert, but never really listened for any patterns beyond the first movement, so when Biss performed, it was nice that I could locate the A parts ("like the refrain in a pop song") and anticipate the different B and C parts. Prichard had also explained that the last movement of Mendelssohn's symphony was going to be aggressive, so I looked out for that as well, having never heard that symphony beyond the first two minutes of the first movement.

If you can't tell by now, I've had problems in the past trying to get into classical music. I need something to notice, pay attention to, or else I will get bored and start thinking about random things, or I will just doze off. Even if I am familiar with the music (this past summer, we went to see Beethoven's 1st and 7th symphonies; it was pretty AWESOME to see Nodame's theme music live!), the performances are so ephemeral, not loud enough in my opinion (I want it all to go BOOM in my ear!), and it's all just so different from being able to press << and listen to or see it all again.

Mordecai's advice to J-Biss: Don't comb your hair back.
So aside from some superficial familiarity with the music, I had one more thing to my advantage, which was what Jonathan Biss looked like. We were in the upper balcony, so it was hard to tell exactly what he looked like in person, but he seemed super tall, lanky, even gangly. It looked like his wingspan was such that he could play two concert grand pianos if he wanted to. My guess is that he can reach an octave-and-a-half or more with one hand. His feet looked huge as well, like Sideshow Bob's. Anyway, it was hilarious to see a Mordecai-look-alike sway during the orchestra's parts and wave his head around while he played his parts. (It's even funnier if you imagine Mordecai in this pose, or this one. Maybe I can imagine this better, or find this funny, only because I get front row seats to his comedy acts.) I have no way of  providing a serious judgment of his performance, but it was nice to have a view of the keyboard live, instead of just hearing a version through headphones, or getting a straight-on view of Mitsuko Uchida's ridiculous facial expressions during her performance.

And then came the french horns. Mendelssohn's Symphony 4, or "Italian" Symphony, has two french horns, and they have a pretty prominent part throughout the whole thing. They keep a kind of bass line going while the strings are doing their main-melody thing in the beginning, and Mordecai's claim was that they were way too loud.  This seems to be a complaint not so much about the horns, but the conductor, Antonio Pappano. (I said maybe Pappano's Italian heritage was responsible.) And later, Mordo says, the horns themselves messed up when they had the spotlight. It was as if something was caught in their reed thingamabob (that thing that collects the spit), or as if they didn't blow enough air, or, figuratively, as if the horns' voices cracked. I think that I heard what Mordecai heard (he has more sensitive ears than I do), but I wasn't confident enough to say that this sounded effed up to me. When the concert was over, there was the usual clapping for five minutes so that the conductor could come out three times, but some people left immediately. I thought this was normal especially since it was getting towards 10PM and there were tons of old people whose bedtime was probably when the concert started (you know, like how people leave early or right after a Sox game to avoid parking lot traffic!). Mordecai said he assumed everyone else was mortified by the horns, which I thought was funny. (Does everyone assume that others are like them?) I had no way of gauging whether others found the horns to be shameful, and I wished more than ever that Twitter could be useful for this reason. But alas, 95% of the audience was over 70, so what could I do. I checked, but of course, no one tweeted about Jonathan Biss, the CSO that night, or about those pieces. One person tweeted that they were going, but nothing about their thoughts on the show or french horns. I suppose I could've gone to the ladies room after the concert and eavesdropped, but that only occurred to me right now. Although, I didn't think about checking Twitter for french horn complaints until I was in bed. See, it's not always about "the good old days" vs. "kids these days." I'm just slow!

ETA: Two reviews (here and here) confirm a number of things. The french horns are probably unable to sleep at night; there was a strange buzzing sound during the Beethoven piano concerto; Mozart's symphony was faster than "usual" (at least, faster than the recording I bought on iTunes); though born and based in London, Pappano is, let's just say, "unapologetically" Italian.